On Nottinghamshire’s first full day in the Caribbean Mick Newell was keen to emphasise that he expects the players to get as much out of the tour as they possibly can.
In contrast to a year ago Notts will begin their programme of fixtures during the weekend’s T20 tournament, whilst the other five county sides on the island have all had some longer forms of match practice this week.
“We’ve arrived later than everybody else so we’re fitting a little bit into what the other team’s plans were,” confirmed the Nottinghamshire Director of Cricket.
“Our batting order looks fairly settled in terms of Ed Cowan coming in and Samit being back in time for the first game of the season."
“But we’re looking forward to playing on Saturday night against Barbados. That will be an experience in itself. Then in the second week of the trip we’ll be ready to play some two-day cricket against other English counties.”
A year ago Newell challenged both Neil Edwards and Karl Turner to use the tour to prove which of them was worthy of a starting place in the county championship side. This time around the competition appears to centre on who will fill the bowling slots.
“Our batting order looks fairly settled in terms of Ed Cowan coming in and Samit being back in time for the first game of the season, so the batting is going to be difficult for other players to force their way in, the likes of Steven Mullaney, Sam Kelsall and Sam Wood – but that’s part of the challenge,” said Newell.
“Amongst the bowlers there are seven or eight seam bowlers who all want to play. We would expect to use them all in the summer over the different forms of the game.
“Obviously everybody wants to play in the first match of the season but that’s only going to be four quick bowlers. You can assume Andre Adams will be one of them and it’s down to the rest of the lads to fight for the other three spots.”
Newell confirmed that Adams is fit and well and raring to go after spending much of the New Zealand season in a coaching role.
“Going forward he sees himself very much going into the coaching side of things but that’s fine because it leaves him fresh to come and play mainly four-day cricket for us,” said Newell.
“He’s fine, training and bowling in the nets and will be back over around the fourth or fifth of April which gives him five or six days to settle in before the season starts.”
One new face around the squad is that of Paul Watson, the new fitness and conditioning coach, who has replaced Kevin Paxton who left to join Leicester City during the winter.
“Kevin was with us for five years and did an excellent job and we were very pleased with the work he did with a number of our players,” said Newell.
“We’re very happy to have Paul on board. His background is in rugby league mainly, some cricket also in Australia and India. I think a new voice coming in every few years gives a fresh idea on things.”
The British weather can be notoriously unhelpful when planning outdoor pursuits and Newell is expecting some interruptions to the pre-season programme.
“We’ve arranged seven days cricket when we get back home, over a period of eight days and we know the chances of getting all seven days in are pretty slim,” he said.
“We’ll look to use those matches appropriately depending on the workload that we feel we need to get into the players before the Middlesex game.
“Hopefully, before then, the weather stays good over here and we can play people as much as we want to play them. Some have obviously played a lot of cricket over the winter, others not so much so we need to balance that out whilst at the same time giving people who are competing for a place in the side, every chance.”